zogoto

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People make a big deal about debt, but I'm not sure how much it will matter. Say you were choosing between two great schools, but you liked one more than the other. For the sake of argument, say:

--You got a $200K scholarship to U Chicago/Michigan (I know both of these schools offer some of these), so you would graduate with about $70K in debt due to living costs.
--You also got into Harvard, liked it more than Chicago, but very little financial aid, so you graduate with $200K debt.

Is that a big difference? I'm in a similar position and I'm trying to figure out what to do. The way I see it, $200K is a lot more than $70K, but if you make $200-250K after specializing, and live like you're making $100-125K (about the same as I grew up with, which is a perfectly fine lifestyle), it would only take a few years to pay off the difference. So what's the big deal about debt?

Also, my goals are unclear right now. I'm interested in academic medicine but I'm not 100% sure because academic medicine is all I know (90% of the doctors I have shadowed have been academicians).
 
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I'm a fan of doing what you want. I honestly can't comment on the effects od debt down the road, but I also know I'd never let money limit my desires. You gotta be happy where you are. If "Harvard" is your dream school and you got in, then go there. I'm sure people will disagree, but life is too short to make a decision based on convenience.
 

mvenus929

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Personally, Cost of Attendance is one of the last things that I look at when trying to decide between schools. If it had come down to University of Colorado and University of Virginia for me, the financial aid packages probably would have determined where I was going, because the schools were so similar in the ways that mattered to me. But even if University of South Carolina offered me a full-ride for all four years, I doubt I'd go there over UVA.

The way I figure it, you're going to be in a lot of debt either way. Far better that you actually enjoy your time in med school (or at least are able to tolerate it), than hate the whole four years. That would make you a very bitter doctor.
 

flip26

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Rather than coming up with somewhat silly hypotheticals, first go through a cycle, hopefully have acceptances at multiple schools, and then compare your finaid packages.

Half of all applicants don't face any of these problems, and a crapton of the 'successful' ones only get into one school.

As for your hypothetical, an extra $130k in debt is enormous and would be hard for me to justify no matter what my dream school was.

Having said that, I now find myself in the position of considering taking on a lot more debt to attend one school over the other, and I never thought I would even consider it...
 

Geekchick921

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As for your hypothetical, an extra $130k in debt is enormous and would be hard for me to justify no matter what my dream school was.
Agreed.
 

zogoto

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As for your hypothetical, an extra $130k in debt is enormous and would be hard for me to justify no matter what my dream school was.
That's exactly my question though. $130K sounds like a lot, but if you're able to make $250K, live off of $100K or $125K, you're only talking about a year's worth of savings, right? Would you go to your state school over Harvard/Hopkins to be 1 year ahead financially?

And I am currently choosing between schools; this is not really a hypothetical situation. From the looks of it, most of my financial aid packages will be weak.
 

brooklynblunder

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its the #1 factor for me. your calculation never would work out like that, esp if you got married, had kids and were going to buy a house and take out a mortgage. it would also depend on where you live too
 

flip26

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That's exactly my question though. $130K sounds like a lot, but if you're able to make $250K, live off of $100K or $125K, you're only talking about a year's worth of savings, right? Would you go to your state school over Harvard/Hopkins to be 1 year ahead financially?

And I am currently choosing between schools; this is not really a hypothetical situation. From the looks of it, most of my financial aid packages will be weak.
There are plenty of threads on this, so search for them.

Regardless, it is naive to think that you can wipe out $125k in debt in a year or two on an income of, say, $250k. That $250k will get eaten up by taxes, deferred expenditures (car, etc) and other stuff.

Plus by the end of residency, the interest that has accrued on the original debt will have grown considerably.

Finally, don't forget you have the other $70k in the debt pile, too?
 

zogoto

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There are plenty of threads on this, so search for them.

Regardless, it is naive to think that you can wipe out $125k in debt in a year or two on an income of, say, $250k. That $250k will get eaten up by taxes, deferred expenditures (car, etc) and other stuff.

Plus by the end of residency, the interest that has accrued on the original debt will have grown considerably.

Finally, don't forget you have the other $70k in the debt pile, too?
Well, since I'm trying to choose between the two schools, I'm focusing on the difference rather than the absolute amount of debt.

Why would the $250K get eaten up? I mean, tons and tons of people live off of $125K or less (my family always has) and been perfectly happy. So you take the other $125K, after taxes it's $75K or so, and use it to pay the debt. Even with interest accruing for 5 years of training, a $200K debt will be $270K, only 1 year's worth of post-tax savings more.

Am I missing something? I know people say it takes forever to pay back the graduation debt, but I don't see why you can't just save more.
 

flip26

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Well, since I'm trying to choose between the two schools, I'm focusing on the difference rather than the absolute amount of debt.

Why would the $250K get eaten up? I mean, tons and tons of people live off of $125K or less (my family always has) and been perfectly happy. So you take the other $125K, after taxes it's $75K or so, and use it to pay the debt. Even with interest accruing for 5 years of training, a $200K debt will be $270K, only 1 year's worth of post-tax savings more.

Am I missing something? I know people say it takes forever to pay back the graduation debt, but I don't see why you can't just save more.
If it was this easy, everyone would do it, with ease. You get paid a monthly salary - you don't get your first year's income all on day one - yet the meter is running on your debt - and you have to go into repayment right away - it is very difficult to ever get past making the monthly payments...make sense? It is very difficult to accumulate any of your income to make lump sum payments on your student debt, along with all of the other obligations you will have post residency...

Only $270k - do you realize how funny that sounds?

Hopefully some actual doctors on the board will chime in, but what you are describing is MUCH harder to do than you think.
 

brooklynblunder

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250k salary (above average for an academic physician) = 33% taxes, probably higher by the time this really matters, so around 160k in cash

most likely 33% will go into living expenses if you are single. so you have 100k left over

cuz we are living in a fairy tale world where we have 0 undergraduate debt, 0 loans owed on a car(s), 0 mortgage and 0 property tax, 0 money saved for retirement/401K, 0 savings in general or kids education, maybe we can pay it off and say there's no difference between 70k and 200k in debt
 

randombetch

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There are plenty of threads on this, so search for them.

Regardless, it is naive to think that you can wipe out $125k in debt in a year or two on an income of, say, $250k. That $250k will get eaten up by taxes, deferred expenditures (car, etc) and other stuff.

Plus by the end of residency, the interest that has accrued on the original debt will have grown considerably.

Finally, don't forget you have the other $70k in the debt pile, too?
Would you rather spend 5 years at Harvard Med or 4 years at your state school? If you're going to be making $250k as a doctor, then going to Harvard Med for 5 years would be equivalent to paying $130k extra to go there for 4 years (assuming you keep 52% of your earnings). I'm pretty sure this is the most logical opportunity cost calculation possible.

Yes, you have to pay mortgage, etc., etc., etc., but those are all completely irrelevant. You can put off all of that for one year to pay off your debt, and you'd be in the same place you would have been (of course you pay for food and housing, but you would have paid for that anyway so it isn't factored into the $130k extra).
 

brooklynblunder

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in all honesty, if you care about what competitive medical school you will attend, you are likely the type that will care about the house that you live in/car that you drive/private schools that your kids go to/its unlikely that you save 100k each year on a 200k salary
 

zogoto

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250k salary (above average for an academic physician) = 33% taxes, probably higher by the time this really matters, so around 160k in cash

most likely 33% will go into living expenses if you are single. so you have 100k left over

cuz we are living in a fairy tale world where we have 0 undergraduate debt, 0 loans owed on a car(s), 0 mortgage and 0 property tax, 0 money saved for retirement/401K, 0 savings in general or kids education, maybe we can pay it off and say there's no difference between 70k and 200k in debt
Why would we have to live in fairy tale world? I assumed 40% taxes, and that 50% would go into living expenses ($75K post-taxes). Tons of families live with that (including mine, which probably has about $100K post-tax), and we have two kids in private college, 2 cars, a mortgage, and my parents' retirement.
 

brooklynblunder

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the med school prestige debate really comes down to your parents and what kind of support you have


most things in life do
 

kywii

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Not having the ability to pay off the debt is not the overall problem. I think it is the fact that you won't have money when you want it. Even if you go to medical school directly out of college you will still be about 25-27 years old when you finish (considering you may take a year out etc). At that point you will start at least a three year residency. Which will take you to about 30 years old or older. During that time you will only be making 40,000-50,000 a year and the deferment policy has changed so that I think you can no longer defer your loans during residency. That means you will be trying to pay off 200,000 worth of loans while only making ~45,000. This is also the time when things like your credit score and having disposable money matters, because this is when you will want to get married, get a car, buy a house, have kids, etc. If you are a non-traditional medical student like me I'll already be 30 when I finish medical school. For me being rich when I'm 60 does't really matter, but I would like to send any potential children I might have to college. You may be in the position where it is okay for you to defer all those goals or those things may not matter to you, which in that case I say go for what ever school you want to. I will tell you this though. I work in a hospital and it is interesting hearing the residents complain about debt, not being able to find a SO, etc. I think that if you are really passionate about a school go for it, but I will tell you that living life without debt is pretty fantastic and definitely gives you more freedom down the road.
 

brooklynblunder

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i feel like you have really made up your mind. i guess it depends on the individual


but paying 100k per year on your loans is unlikely
 

zogoto

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i feel like you have really made up your mind. i guess it depends on the individual


but paying 100k per year on your loans is unlikely
I'm just trying to understand why it's unlikely. kywii's idea of not having the money when you need seems valid. Maybe that's what's frustrating about the debt?
 

DrBowtie

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Why? Because an extra 130k put away now can grow into 750k at retirement.
 

TooMuchResearch

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On an annual $250k, 2010 federal income tax alone will bring it down to roughly $175k (pretty rough calculation...I've never made enough money or owned enough of anything to have to itemize my deductions). Add in your state income tax, property taxes, etc., and you end up with much less.

Wait, what is this thread about?

Oh. Yeah. An extra $100k+ debt is a large pill to swallow. No one's offering me a scholarship, so I don't have to worry about it :cool:
 
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Just because you can borrow that much money doesn't mean you should. Doctors today are not very good sources of information on student debt, mind you, because they paid much, much lower tuition than we will. Talk to a first year resident that went to a private school and it will likely open your eyes a little. Then, realize that we will be paying much more than they will once we finally become medical students.

I also find that most premeds really have no idea how much of a financial sacrifice it is to defer your earnings until you're in your 30's. Compounded interest is a beautiful thing.

Check out the Powerpoint presentation under "Rich Doctor - Maybe Not" at:

http://medicalexecutivepost.com/2007/11/30/90/

Many physicians may make a large salary, but they do not have a very good net worth (wealth). And, unfortunately for physicians, you are not taxed on your net worth, you are taxed on your income.
 
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I'm a fan of doing what you want. I honestly can't comment on the effects od debt down the road, but I also know I'd never let money limit my desires. You gotta be happy where you are. If "Harvard" is your dream school and you got in, then go there. I'm sure people will disagree, but life is too short to make a decision based on convenience.
Agreed. If you've already made up your mind and people are telling you otherwise and you decide to side with them, you're just going to regret it. Whatever you decide, whether it's to take the extra debt or not, just make sure you're comfortable with your decision and you can live with the consequences.
 

Bartelby

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On an annual $250k, 2010 federal income tax alone will bring it down to roughly $175k (pretty rough calculation...I've never made enough money or owned enough of anything to have to itemize my deductions). Add in your state income tax, property taxes, etc., and you end up with much less.
Right. Take taxes into account when considering payback.

Also realize that the $130k will accumulate interest, much of it during med school and all of it in your training years afterwards. That debt will balloon up quickly. (Not to mention you might be able to live on less than $15k/year, meaning you would have even less debt).

If you got into UChicago or Michigan with a full ride I think it would be nearly impossible to turn down. Is Harvard going to be that much better? And how much peace of mind would it give you to know you owe very little? I would undoubtedly go with the money here, but honestly with choices like you mentioned you can't go too wrong.
 

agirl

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deleted.

People make a big deal about debt, but I'm not sure how much it will matter. Say you were choosing between two great schools, but you liked one more than the other. For the sake of argument, say:

--You got a $200K scholarship to U Chicago/Michigan (I know both of these schools offer some of these), so you would graduate with about $70K in debt due to living costs.
--You also got into Harvard, liked it more than Chicago, but very little financial aid, so you graduate with $200K debt.

Is that a big difference? I'm in a similar position and I'm trying to figure out what to do. The way I see it, $200K is a lot more than $70K, but if you make $200-250K after specializing, and live like you're making $100-125K (about the same as I grew up with, which is a perfectly fine lifestyle), it would only take a few years to pay off the difference. So what's the big deal about debt?

Also, my goals are unclear right now. I'm interested in academic medicine but I'm not 100% sure because academic medicine is all I know (90% of the doctors I have shadowed have been academicians).
 
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DrBowtie

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I think, for one, where would you get the $130k to put away today?
The guy said he was going to live modestly his first year out. If he did the same thing and instead of paying the bank, he put it away it would be worth that much money.

You could even do the calculation of how much his payments would be each month and check the future value of that. More realistic valuation of his decision.
 

randombetch

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I think, for one, where would you get the $130k to put away today?
John's on the mark. You can't find $130k to invest today. You can, however, take a $130k loan. The opportunity cost of a $130k loan is therefore not the lost possible compounded interest on it.

The guy said he was going to live modestly his first year out. If he did the same thing and instead of paying the bank, he put it away it would be worth that much money.

You could even do the calculation of how much his payments would be each month and check the future value of that. More realistic valuation of his decision.
If you make $250k, you can make the decision of whether you want to pay off all your debt within 1.5 years or not. Why would you do a future value comparison? Of course the debt would accumulate more if you let it grow, so it's future value depends on whether or not you want to pay it off fast or slowly. I think it'd be a better idea to do a present value comparison. And in a present value comparison, $130k = $130k.
 

DrBowtie

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John's on the mark. You can't find $130k to invest today. You can, however, take a $130k loan. The opportunity cost of a $130k loan is therefore not the lost possible compounded interest on it.
Look. He said he planned on paying off his 130k loan in his first year out. I'm going on his parameters. Also by "now" I meant his first year out. Assuming he's a trad student, from the time he is 30 to 60 it grows into ~750k.
 

randombetch

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Look. He said he planned on paying off his 130k loan in his first year out. I'm going on his parameters. Also by "now" I meant his first year out. Assuming he's a trad student, from the time he is 30 to 60 it grows into ~750k.
Well in that case that makes an extreme amount of sense. I guess you can consider the opportunity cost of that $130k to be the lost compound interest in that case...
 

DrBowtie

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Well in that case that makes an extreme amount of sense. I guess you can consider the opportunity cost of that $130k to be the lost compound interest in that case...
Not to mention by the time he is paying it off, the interest on the loans has been accruing. 6.8 and 8.6% interest adds up quick.
 

JJMrK

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As for your hypothetical, an extra $130k in debt is enormous and would be hard for me to justify no matter what my dream school was.
Same. I would never pay that much more for any school.
 

randombetch

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Not to mention by the time he is paying it off, the interest on the loans has been accruing. 6.8 and 8.6% interest adds up quick.
Haha, you can't count interest twice. Even if he pays it off slowly, that means he's had more money to invest in other means with a similar interest rate.
 

randombetch

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As for your hypothetical, an extra $130k in debt is enormous and would be hard for me to justify no matter what my dream school was.
Same. I would never pay that much more for any school.
Well, you guys sure as hell better not be willing to take a year off to strengthen your application to get into a good medical school because it's the exact same thing.

Taking a $130k loan is fiscally the same as prolonging your doctor salary for a year of your life if you're making ~$200k starting salary as a doctor.
 

DrBowtie

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Haha, you can't count interest twice. Even if he pays it off slowly, that means he's had more money to invest in other means with a similar interest rate.
I was saying the interest of the loan (130k + interest) until he gets to 30. So once he is 30, the amount that he forgoes the opportunity cost of is actually larger than 130k.
 

johncalvin

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Well, you guys sure as hell better not be willing to take a year off to strengthen your application to get into a good medical school because it's the exact same thing.

Taking a $130k loan is fiscally the same as prolonging your doctor salary for a year of your life if you're making ~$200k starting salary as a doctor.
I was saying the interest of the loan (130k + interest) until he gets to 30. So once he is 30, the amount that he forgoes the opportunity cost of is actually larger than 130k.
Bottom line, guys, he doesn't have $130k. lol. end of story.
 

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As it so happens, I personally am making almost the exact same decision the OP has described. I will be choosing the scholarship, and not the perceived prestige/career advantages/fit.

No doubt, all of the schools you mentioned and others in the same heavyweight class are outstanding institutions with a lot to offer, but you have to remember to look out for yourself first. You may think that you are not in the game for money, but don't fool yourself because medschools very much are in it for the money. Why would a school like Michigan offer you a merit scholarship and a school like Harvard not do the same? Harvard has astronomical resources, and student tuition accounts for a fraction of a percent of their revenues; why can Michigan afford to pay for your education, but Harvard cannot? Think about the real world value of what UMich stands to gain by upping their stats (MCAT, GPA, selectivity, etc.) in USNews by attracting a top flight candidate like yourself...if they manage to break into the "top 10" or whatever other imagined prestige threshold they can come up with, it brings with it real potential for gains in funding from all sources because they can use their ranking as leverage. Increases in funding will allow them to increase capital investments in technology, fund more research, and in turn grab more of the market share. And they want to pay you to be the lever that gets them there! That's pretty cool.

Harvard, on the other hand, is in the pole position. They have everything UMich wants, and what's more, they will trick you into thinking that you will realize some kind of gains over and above what many other comparable institutions can offer you merely by your association with Harvard. What do you want to do in medicine? If it isn't just being able to drop the H bomb and lord your almighty pedigree over others, I can assure you that Umich/UofC will take you there.

Cynical outlook? Maybe a little, but how many people get their way paid for to become a doctor (at a great place to boot)?
 

TooMuchResearch

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Haha, you can't count interest twice. Even if he pays it off slowly, that means he's had more money to invest in other means with a similar interest rate.
This used to work very well for new docs back when 3% consolidation loans were an option.

Check out ActiveDutyMD's posts in this thread for some good advice:

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=497526

The Bogleheads thread he suggests is pretty good, too:

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4263&highlight=poll+loan+rate

The only reason I would pay off the 6.8% debt slowly is if I found myself in another bull market similar to the one that's been happening since March 2009.
 

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People make a big deal about debt, but I'm not sure how much it will matter. Say you were choosing between two great schools, but you liked one more than the other. For the sake of argument, say:

--You got a $200K scholarship to U Chicago/Michigan (I know both of these schools offer some of these), so you would graduate with about $70K in debt due to living costs.
--You also got into Harvard, liked it more than Chicago, but very little financial aid, so you graduate with $200K debt.

Is that a big difference? I'm in a similar position and I'm trying to figure out what to do. The way I see it, $200K is a lot more than $70K, but if you make $200-250K after specializing, and live like you're making $100-125K (about the same as I grew up with, which is a perfectly fine lifestyle), it would only take a few years to pay off the difference. So what's the big deal about debt?

Also, my goals are unclear right now. I'm interested in academic medicine but I'm not 100% sure because academic medicine is all I know (90% of the doctors I have shadowed have been academicians).
You should check out the unfortunate tale of these two young doctors in debt.

Think it can't happen to your own smart and talented self? That's just naiveté, ****in' with you.
 

smq123

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Is that a big difference? I'm in a similar position and I'm trying to figure out what to do. The way I see it, $200K is a lot more than $70K, but if you make $200-250K after specializing, and live like you're making $100-125K (about the same as I grew up with, which is a perfectly fine lifestyle), it would only take a few years to pay off the difference. So what's the big deal about debt?
First off, if you're going to specialize and do something that (at least currently) pays $250K a year on average, you have to assume that you'll be in residency/fellowship for at least six years. What pays that much and isn't six years? Uro, ortho, neurosurg, cards, GI....they're all over 5 years of training. The main exception is derm (4 years), but I wouldn't place any bets that you'll be good enough to get into derm. Anesthesia MAY pay that much, but I'm not 100% sure.

So, if you're in training for 4-6 years, your $130K debt will balloon into easily $260K debt. I really don't understand why pre-meds never take into account interest accruement. It grows faster than you think.

Second, you're assuming that you'll leave Harvard with "only" $200K of debt. Tuition has been increasing steadily every year; you have to assume that yours will too. I would bet that your debt is actually closer to $250K.

Finally, you're assuming that specialists WILL continue to make $250K a year by the time you get there. No one knows what will happen to salaries under health reform; you may very well be making substantially less than that.

Go to the cheaper school. If you really are considering UMich or UChicago, they're both excellent schools. Harvard's edge over them, name wise, is probably not significant enough to go into 6 figures of additional debt for.
 

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Premeds also only seem to factor in tuition. Not the cost of living. When all is said and done and you go to that more prestigious school and you owe that extra 200k, guess what? You still will have the same letters after your name as me with my 40k of debt.

The major disadvantage for me? Personally none. Some people love to point out what school they went to. I also have no intention to do academics (which will make you less). So, once in the community guess how many people will know or care what school you went to? None. They care about whether you are a caring and proficient physician which isn't correlated with name brand.
 
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As a matter of fact, Mich is a surprisingly good school, come to think about it. I only found out a couple months ago that its ranked at #7, and I live around metro detroit, mind you. I'm gonna transfer there for EECS, so we'll see how that goes.

I would definitely choose the scholarship If I were you. At the end of the day, you're still an MD, and the real training that will matter much more than med school will be residency.;)
 

Narmerguy

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Life isn't always about making the absolute most money possible :thumbup: Doesn't mean you have to welcome poverty, but there's more than two extremes.
 

flip26

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Life isn't always about making the absolute most money possible :thumbup: Doesn't mean you have to welcome poverty, but there's more than two extremes.
Agree that there is no need to cast these arguments in the 2 extremes, but there is also the valid argument to minimize the debt necessary to obtain a mostly standardized medical education.

Also, it isn't how much you make, but how much you keep, that matters in life. Starting every month post residency staring at a $2500+ loan payment, after taxes but before you spend the first nickel on everything else - shelter, food, insurance, transportation, etc - is a daunting thought, especially if you had a viable option to attend a cheaper med school.
 
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smq123

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Life isn't always about making the absolute most money possible :thumbup: Doesn't mean you have to welcome poverty, but there's more than two extremes.
Life isn't about making the most money possible.

But minimizing debt isn't about making the most money, either. It's about giving yourself the financial freedom to do what you want. It could mean not taking a job you don't like but that pays really well. It could mean putting aside more money for your children's educations. It could mean buying a house instead of continuing to rent. It could mean getting married when you want, not when you've saved enough. Finally, it could mean doing a specialty that you want, not necessarily the one that pays the most.

Debt is definitely something that limits you.
 

pOrtEnt

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But minimizing debt isn't about making the most money, either. It's about giving yourself the financial freedom to do what you want.
:thumbup:

Do you want to travel sometime in the next ten years? Be able to afford a nice wedding, honeymoon, or vacation in your limited time off? Do you want to have kids sometime in the next 10ish years? How about taking some of the pressure off of you and your future spouse's schedule and hiring a sitter so that you can have a night out every now and then or have someone to watch your kid before you get home from work (this can be really expensive!)? When do you want your first home? Well, you'll need a downpayment for that...

Take home message is that the money will likely resolve itself in the long run; however, how much delayed gratification do you want to take on? Wouldn't you like to have the freedom to enjoy what limited free time you will have in the next decade of your life (you were probably a preteen a decade ago... how much has changed in your life since then? How has your personality changed? If you're like most people, I am guessing a LOT)? Think about what you're giving up very carefully, and valuate your options. If you still want to go to X school, that's fine. Don't think that debt will not limit you in the short term, because it likely will.
 

ArkansasRanger

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Well, I've never had student loans, but I'm guessing it may work like credit cards with an insanely small minimum payment. You could pay the $15 or so a month for the rest of your life and still die in debt. That's always an option.

This has nothing to do with. I pay off my CCs as soon as I get the bills.
 

Infinitydrop

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I wonder if there's also a gender issue at work here, as in men have to make the money and women don't have to worry as much?

Well, if you marry someon like an engineer or in banking, you could technically live off their salaries and use all your 250k worth of money to pay off your debts in a couple of years, and in return be able to contribute more in later life when they won't make as much. Perfect traderoff.